Who is it for?
The LAH is ideal for people who may benefit from light contact with their service dog through a semi-rigid handle. This harness allows a working service dog to assist with communication spatial orientation, proprioception, or balance support. It can be a good choice for people who are affected by MS, Parkinson’s, PTSD, POTS, EDS, TBI, neurological conditions,vertigo, stroke, seizures, hearing or visual impairment, etc.
BLD’s Light Assistance Harness (LAH)
- Minimal impact on dog’s gait and natural movement
- Ergonomically designed contoured shape
- Pressure is distributed around dog’s core
- Engineered with structural support for the handle
- Layers of specialized padding
- No pinching, rubbing or irritation from synthetic materials or bulky straps
- Reflective spots on breastplate and harness body (7 total) for visibility safety
- Easy on and off with one quick-release latch
- Weighs only 1.5 to 2 pounds (under 1 kilogram)
Developed alongside service dog training programs, experienced service dog users, canine sports medicine specialists, working dog experts and informed by research on canine movement and guide dog harnesses, we’ve addressed concerns of other readily available gear that may not meet the needs of both the dog and the user.
BLD’s Light Assistance Harness is engineered to minimize shoulder and spine strain. The curved harness body is designed to distribute handle pressure evenly around the dog’s core, with a majority of the pressure directed under the dog’s ribs rather than onto the shoulder joints.
The LAH has a unique, contoured shape that follows the natural curves of your dog’s body. BLD’s exclusive wide, wave-shaped chest plate arches up over the dog’s shoulder and dips down over the breastbone so as not to restrict or pinch the dog’s shoulders or put pressure on the sensitive tissues in the neck.
The LAH is crafted with layers of specialized padding in the saddle area and lined with smooth leather that allows the harness to glide freely with the dog’s movement. The top of the harness body has a channel (gullet) to protect the dog’s spine. The chest plate has a unique Velcro attachment that eliminates bulky buckles and straps, yet adjusts to fit the dog’s unique shape. The girth strap has a wide shearling sheepskin lined pad.
Easy to put on and take off the dog with a single quick-release latch (or magnetic latch) on the adjustable girth strap.
Five D-rings are included; there is one heavy D-ring on the top of the harness, two light D-rings for accessories, and two lower D-rings (designed for attaching a flexible leading/light guiding handle, if desired).
About the Handle:
The LAH comes standard with a Standing Handle, which is designed to provide light-contact balance assistance (touch for orientation and stability, or light counter-balance by pulling up).
Made from double-layered leather, the LAH Standing Handle remains upright (vertical), yet is flexible to absorb and distribute pressure while providing reliable feedback to the user.
As with all BLD service dog harnesses, the entire harness is specifically designed to support the handle! Structural support is hidden inside the harness body and will provide a lifetime of reliable performance.
The Standing Handle is made in your Choice of firmness, in any length you need. It is removable with Quick-Release Latches and can fold back to permit the dog to fit under tables or into tight places. Some handles have brace straps (horizontal support strap) depending on the height of the handle. We measure both LAH handle options from the dog’s wither’s to the user’s hand grip, see the measuring instructions for details.
Standing Handle choices:
- Semi-Rigid Standing Handle: U-shaped and reinforced to be a bit stiff, it flexes yet remains upright. This option is the most rugged and durable.
- Flex-Wire Standing Handle: Highly recommended! Ergonomic option! This handle is reinforced to hold its shape. Flex-wire can be bent and formed to fit the user’s hand. This handle has a firmer feel and more direct feedback. (Caution: to protect the dog, this handle will bend when too much pressure is used. Repeated bending will weaken the handle.)
A second, optional handle is available should you require leading or light guide-type work. This Clip-On Leather Handle attaches to the lower D-rings on the harness.
Clip-On Handle choices (Optional):
- Flexible leather ($)
- Semi-Rigid leather reinforced to be a bit stiff ($)
NOTE: As with all BLD harnesses, the LAH is specifically designed around the handle for proper support and performance. The LAH will accommodate ONLY these handle options.
LAH is available in 4 harness body sizes to match your dog’s weight and girth measurement, and 6 breastplate collar sizes to fit your dog’s chest. The modular design allows each part of the harness to fit your dog’s shape and size. The handle is made to fit the handler’s hand measurement. Please measure your using the instructions on pages 8-11.
Select the harness size and provide the measurements upon ordering. The experts at BLD will review your measurements and will select the appropriate breast collar size for the best fit. Rest assured, we will let you know if any measurements need to be checked, so please, don’t worry. We’re here to help!
- 30-45 pounds (13.5-20.5 kg)
- 22-27” girth (55-69 cm)
- Petite Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Mini Aussie, Aus. Labradoodle
- 45-70 pounds (20.5-32 kg)
- 26-30” girth (66-76 cm)
- Smaller retriever, Most poodle/doodle crosses, Malinois, Border Collie, Aussie, Standard Poodle, Husky
- 70-100 pounds (31.5-45.5 kg)
- 28-34” girth (71-86 cm)
- Larger Labrador, Golden Retriever, heavy/sturdy built doodles, small GSD, Collie, Small Swiss/Bernese Mountain Dog
Extra Large $395
- 100-140 pounds (45-63.5 kg)
- 35-42” Girth (87-107 cm)
- Doberman, Newfoundland, St. Bernard, Pyrenees, small Great Dane, larger Bernese
- If your dog is larger, please contact us about the possibilities.
Click here for measuring instructions:
Other Harness Choices:
- Black Latigo: our standard and favorite option, this leather is solid black all the way through, and minimizes the appearance of inevitable scuffs and scratches.
- Brown Latigo: the same quality leather as above, but the brown color is more prone to show the inevitable scuffs and scratches, and shades may vary. Note: each brown leather harness part may be a different shade.
Girth Latch/buckle style
- Standard Quick-Release latch: metal side-release buckle is easy to use.
- Magnetic latch is available for people with low dexterity ($18)
Reflector spot color is available in white, red, or blue.
Double Patch (aka “Leash Wraps”)
- 2-sided patches can attach to the Standing Handle, or clip-onto the accessory D-rings
- Assorted service dog designs available separately.
- The LAH is compatible with our gorgeous leather accessory pouch. Available separately.
Not compatible with the Cape/Vest. We do NOT RECOMMEND using the LAH with any other accessories, as they may interfere with the functionality of this minimal design.
Dogs must be physically mature and of appropriate size, fitness and soundness for the work you would like them to perform.
Mobility, stability, and balance assistance work is physically demanding; a service dog must be physically mature and in prime physical condition. The dog’s growth plates must be closed before beginning harness work (recommended minimum of 18-24 months of age).
Consulting a qualified veterinarian (orthopedic specialist or canine sports medicine physical therapist) is highly recommended for all service/assistance dogs that perform physical tasks. Likewise, harness users should consult a physician and physical therapist to determine what medical equipment is appropriate for their needs.
Fit and performance of the equipment can only be assured if the dog meets the minimum recommended standards, the user and trainer have reasonable expectations, and when the equipment is used responsibly for the purpose it was designed.
Our equipment is designed to allow an appropriately selected and trained service dog to provide reasonable assistance to a person with a balance, proprioception, or stability impairment. (BLD cannot assess a dog’s suitability or appropriateness.) BLD harnesses are not intended to serve as, or to replace, a durable medical device such as a cane, walker, or crutch. User assumes all responsibility for the safety, health, and care of the animal and human alike.
Safety considerations: this harness is NOT to be used for any type of restraint, control, bracing, or for correcting the dog. Not designed or recommended for load-bearing activity or heavy pulling of any kind. For use only with handles & accessories designed and approved by BLD for this specific equipment.
Refitting to another dog is possible if the dog is in the same range for the harness size (a new breast collar, girth strap, or handle may be necessary).
Replacement harness parts are available. Sample prices for replacement parts (subject to change without notice): LAH harness body/saddle only, $185-200. Breast collar $125-140. Standing Handle $80. Flexible clip-on handle $45. Semi-Rigid clip-on handle $75. Girth strap with pad $25.
Katrina Boldry, the Owner and Designer of BLD, has spent several years studying and considering all aspects of this harness in order to improve the functionality for both the dog and the person. The goal was to design a lower-impact harness that is comfortable for the dog, and allows for good communication and contact for the handler. Katrina’s research indicates lowering the force applied to the dog’s shoulders and equalizing handle pressure to be more symmetrical allows the dog to work with less effort while minimizing strain on the dog’s body.
Although there are many options for dog equipment, it is rare to find products that have been developed to consider both sides of the human-dog partnership. To our knowledge, no studies have been done to examine the bio-mechanical effects the human has on the dog, or that the dog has on the human, over an extended period of time. We’ve designed our equipment to reduce pressure on the dog in an effort to reduce potential long-term negative effects that harness work may have on a dog’s body, and also offer options so that the handle can best fit the person’s individual needs.
Guide dog harness/rigid guide handle option is in development. We’re sorry it is not available at this time. This LAH will NOT accommodate a rigid guide handle.